GUEST COMMENTARY: Legislation is a critical step toward high-speed broadband access for Missouri

Monday, July 1, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Missourians have been quick to recognize the benefits of mobile telecommunications and to adopt wireless innovations into daily life. Currently, about one-third of Missouri households are wireless-only.

As the capabilities of handheld devices and the benefits of a connected lifestyle bring information and convenience to our fingertips, the days of looking to “plug in” are behind us.

Increased access to high-speed broadband has revolutionized communications and transformed virtually every aspect of our lives, delivering opportunities that help our businesses and entrepreneurs compete and thrive in the global, 21st century marketplace.

For instance, Kelsey Meyer’s Influence and Co., based in Columbia’s beautiful Museao co-working space, is a business that helps individuals and companies build their online credibility through though leadership and content marketing.

Meyer is just one of the many examples of how Missourians are putting high-speed Internet to work for our state's economy and raising the tech profile of our state.

Missouri’s future is as rooted in new technology opportunities as it is in local values that embrace being neighborly, respectful and supporting your community.

We need to enable technological progress and support Missouri's future economic growth in an increasingly tech-centric world. As part of being forward-thinking, it's imperative that we adopt common-sense rules that acknowledge the realities of the tech landscape and encourage investment and speedy deployment of our state's broadband networks.

Residents in states that embrace forward-focused laws benefit from expanded access to opportunities in health care, education and increased economic growth.

Currently, those looking to invest in Missouri’s communications networks face a patchwork system of differing local ordinances, terms and processes across the state, which slows investment, deployment and makes it difficult for some Missourians to get access to this critical resource.

A bill that boasts overwhelming bipartisan support, HB 331, would bring uniformity to Missouri's current guidelines and result in expanded wireless networks.

That’s why tech and startup leaders have joined businesses large and small and residents from Columbia to Kansas City in support of HB 331.

In fact, Partnership for Technology Innovation and tech community leaders like former Missouri State Rep. Jason Grill, Heidi Fuhrman and 46 other tech companies recently sent a letter to Gov. Jay Nixon urging him to sign the bill into law.

By signing HB 331 into law, Nixon can seize an opportunity to increase access to broadband, attract new businesses to Missouri, spur economic development and job creation, and secure Missouri's place as a leader in broadband access. Support HB 331 and help Missourians and Missouri businesses reap the advantages of an innovative future.

Melissa Roberts is executive director of the Partnership for Technology Innovation; Jason Grill is former Missouri state representative and host of Entrepreneur KC Radio on KMBZ 980AM;  Jon Kot is CEO of Tech-Pointer; Heidi Fuhrman is a startup community leader in Columbia.

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